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The Critical Role of Interoperability During COVID-19

This is our third post in our blog series about the Interoperability and Patient Access final rule. Revisit posts one and two.

The COVID-19 pandemic brings to light the importance of interoperability and real-time patient event notifications to better track and monitor patients as they move through the care continuum. As recently  stated by Dr. Don Rucker, National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), if interoperability measures outlined in the final rule were already in place, the U.S. would be “in a vastly better position to fight the virus.”

Currently, many post-acute providers and primary care physicians receive no notifications when their patients are hospitalized, transferred or discharged. In working with our hospital and post-acute customers during this pandemic, we have learned that this remains true for our partners on the front lines, who have minimal insights into COVID-19 patient transitions. Real-time patient notifications – coupled with clinical context from multiple care settings – enable providers to monitor and track COVID-19 patient encounters across hospitals and post-acute providers. For example, it is essential to understand where a COVID-19+ patient previously sought or received care – whether at a hospital ED, with their PCP, or in a nursing home – and to notify providers who may have had an encounter with the patient prior to diagnosis to prevent the further spread of COVID-19. A patient’s PCP should also remain informed, via real-time alerts, regarding the patients diagnosis, hospitalization and treatment plan to ensure the appropriate follow-up care is provided.

During this pandemic, increased visibility into a patient’s utilization history and streamlined information-sharing between hospitals are both critically important to reducing exposure and preventing duplicative COVID-19 testing. Though hospitals may be aware of COVID-19 diagnoses at their own facilities, patients often seek care at outside hospitals, and even across state lines. For example: A patient exhibits mild symptoms of COVID-19, tests positive for the virus and is sent home to quarantine. Two days later, the patient experiences worsening symptoms and presents at the ED. It is critical that the ED provider is immediately aware of the patient’s COVID-19+ status through CarePort’s real-time platform to save valuable time and resources, and to mitigate further spread of the virus through proper isolation measures and PPE.

As hospital time and resources are stretched thin by COVID-19, CMS may reevaluate proposed deadlines for its Interoperability and Patient Access final rule and new Conditions of Participation. Though interoperability deadlines are now up in the air, the COVID-19 pandemic reveals the critical need for providers to address interoperability in the future. To again quote Dr. Don Rucker, “There’s an argument to be made that [COVID-19] is a cause for delay. I could equally well argue that the virus and the lack of data flow and the lack of ability to allow people to change the site of care are impediments to care in this era of a viral pandemic.”

CarePort is supporting hospitals, post-acute providers and physicians across our vast network through real-time alerts, increased visibility, and information sharing during the COVID-19 outbreak. If you’re interested in learning more about CarePort’s efforts during COVID-19, visit www.CovidTOC.com – and register to attend our interoperability webinar hosted by associates from Foley Hoag and Lissy Hu, CarePort CEO and founder, on Wednesday April 22 at 1:00pm ET.

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